Kindness can be a pretty simple thing, a ‘Thank You,’ holding the door open for another, donating to someone in need, offering a gentle smile, or helping a neighbor. Leading with compassion rather than hostility.
But we can make this so hard. We get caught thinking that our kindnesses are too small, that they don’t matter, that we can’t make a difference. We believe that if we cannot save the rainforests or end crime that we are powerless to do anything. Baloney.
To be a good in the world, though, you’ve got to get out of your own way. Stop over thinking and start feeling. Move from your head into your heart. Take inspired action.
A friend of mine Brenda Knight offers some thoughts about how to do this in her post below and more in her new book Be a Good in the World, where she offers daily ideas for sharing your goodness and making a positive contribution. Check it out.
Be a Good in the World
Out of Your Mind (And into Your Heart)
By Brenda Knight
For the last few years, I’ve worked two jobs. My “day job” is my publishing career, which is enormously rewarding. The other is my “inner work” – meditation, visualization, intention-setting and deep delving within. It is how I begin and end each day.
I can make myself miserable when I get completely “in my head,” out of my body and out of my heart. I get into an over-thinking “spin” mode and start to worry, disconnecting from my feelings and from those of others. I am trying to become more mindful of this, but it is one of my major unhappiness habits.
Are you sensitive when someone is nattering on and on about themselves, especially when nearly every sentence begins with the word “I”? I used to get very irritated at this, even going so far as to count the “I’s.” But that’s a superficial judgment, as self-absorbed people can humble-brag and many empathetic sentences can begin with “I.” “I am trying to become more compassion.” “I am part of this community.” “I am listening to you.”
One of the quickest turnarounds when you find yourself in this mindset, disconnected from the heartfelt approach to life, is to think it out or even write down your feelings in a journal. There may well be a concern somewhere in the back of your mind, an insecurity, or a fret that is almost subconsciously causing this low level anxiety. Why fret about yourself when you can collaborate with others?
Worry is another major happiness eradicator. We all do it and we all should stop. Worrying truly is useless. It will not help, and worse, it can escalate. Worry can become stress, and stress can lead to depression. If you can’t control all of the little things that bother you, it might make you feel helpless and ultimately bummed out. Dig into your mind and find what nagging frets are beyond your control. Write them down, and chose to either deal with them or to not let them distract you while you’re working on other projects. If you filter out the daily onslaught of those nags, you can focus on what you hope to achieve, what cleaner and more beautiful world you want to live in, what space you can create around you to help you become the best version of yourself.
Plus, worry is a huge timewaster. Focus on what makes you feel right and good in this moment. Get back in touch with your heart and you’ll get back on track.
Invest in the Moment
Mary Jane Ryan, author of some of the very best “heartful” books (Attitudes of Gratitude, The Happiness Makeover), is someone I admire enormously as a happiness expert. She is the highly successful writer and business entrepreneur of Professional Thinking Partners (PTP), and a well-rounded person with varied interests, a loving family and friends. I asked her recently, How does she do it all? With PTP and book tours, she frequently travels internationally, writes bestselling books every year, and still finds time to be involved in her daughter’s school and cook great dinners for her husband. I was really curious to discover her secret. She told me it was really very simple. “I only think about what I am supposed to be doing in the moment. If I am writing, I clear everything else out completely. If I am giving a lecture, I am completely engaged with the people I am speaking with. If I am making a romantic pasta dinner, I am fully vested in making it great. For example, I am talking to you now, and focused completely on this conversation. It is a simple matter of focus. It is also excellent time management. Once I learned this, it completely transformed my life.”
Mary Jane’s words about focusing on our conversation reminded me, for some reason, of Bill Clinton. Few Americans have been as successful as the two-term president, humanitarian, and possible future First Dude. And what’s the secret to his success? “Clinton gives everyone he meets his full, undivided attention,” claims The Third Metric blog. It’s truly his superpower. “In our culture of distraction and multitasking … the ability to completely engage with another person is an unusual trait.” If someone with that much on his mind can still hone in on the person standing in front of him, then we all have the capability.
It takes a bit of time to get good at this disciplined focus, but it is vital for me. “Just try it.” I am trying it and, dear reader, Mary Jane Ryan is right! This happiness habit is a “mastery of life skill.” I still wrestle with monkey mindedness every day, but on the occasion when I achieve disciplined focus, I feel a frisson of joy throughout my being. Mary Jane’s advice is deepest wisdom and we must integrate it into our daily moments. To be absolutely focused requires the mind, body, the spirit, and the heart. As she said, try it!